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iPhone Found Intact After 16,000-Foot Fall from Distressed Alaska Airlines Flight Headed to Ontario, California

ONTARIO, Calif. ( — An Alaska Airlines flight heading to Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County was at the center of a dramatic incident after a door plug blew off mid-air, leading to rapid decompression in the cabin and setting off a series of chaotic events.

In the midst of the turmoil, an incredible twist unfolded as an iPhone survived a 16,000-foot fall from the distressed flight and was found to be in perfect working condition.

The remarkable discovery came to light when a social media user, Seanathan Bates, shared the extraordinary find on X (formerly known as Twitter), capturing the attention of the world and aviation authorities alike.

Bates shared, “I stumbled upon an iPhone on the side of the road, still in airplane mode with half a battery, and open to a baggage claim for #AlaskaAirlines ASA1282. Remarkably, it survived a 16,000-foot drop perfectly intact! When I reported it, Zoe at @NTSB informed me that it was the SECOND phone to be found.” Bates’ post, which has garnered over 6.7 million views, recounted the discovery of the phone while walking down Barnes Road near Sunset Transit Center, in Portland, Oregon.

@strawberr.vy Girls’ trip turned into emergency landing trip… #alaska #alaskaair ♬ original sound – vy 🍓

In a subsequent video, Bates recounted the circumstances of finding the iPhone, initially expressing disbelief before coming across the unscathed device, complete with pre-flight confirmation and baggage claim details indicating its origin from Alaska Airlines Flight 1282.

“Went for a walk today and found a phone belonging to an ALASKA AIRLINES passenger lying on the ground. I wanted an excuse to go for a walk this afternoon, and the NTSB has asked people to report anything that looks like it could have fallen out of the recent ALASKA AIRLINES accident,” stated Seanathan Bates.

“I found a phone sitting on the side of the road that had apparently fallen 16,000 feet, and of course, I was a little skeptical at first. I was thinking this could have been thrown out of a car, or someone dropped it while they were jogging. But I found it. It was still pretty clean, no scratches on it, sitting under a bush. It didn’t have a screen lock on it, so I opened it up and it was in airplane mode, with a travel confirmation and baggage claim for Alaska 1282. I had to call the NTSB.”

The extraordinary survival of the iPhone adds a captivating dimension to the aviation drama, offering a glimmer of positivity amidst the harrowing experience.

As investigations into the door plug incident unfold, the unexpected tale of the iPhone found by Seanathan Bates serves as a remarkable testament to the resilience of modern technology and a reminder of the unfathomable twists of fate.

The Frightening Flight Experience

The initial incident took place on a Boeing 737 Max 9, with 171 passengers and six crew members on board, departing from Portland International Airport. Just 10 minutes into the flight, at 6:38 p.m. on Friday, January 5, 2024, chaos erupted as the door plug tore off at an altitude of 16,000 feet, leading to rapid cabin decompression.

Eyewitness accounts detailed the tumultuous scene within the cabin, with headrests and clothing being sucked out of the aircraft, and reports of a child’s shirt being forcibly removed by the air pressure, prompting frantic efforts to prevent the child from being pulled out of the plane.

Remarkably, a TikTok user known as Elizabeth, with the handle @Strawberr.vy, captured video right after the door plug tore off, unveiling a hole in the aircraft.

The woman recording then turns the camera towards herself, revealing an oxygen mask covering her mouth. Quickly panning back, she captures the gaping hole again, indicating that the plane is still mid-flight, with city lights gleaming below and passengers nearby visibly affected by the airflow.

The caption accompanying the video reads, “Flew back for an emergency landing. It wasn’t even an emergency door; we were in the back half, it was just a random piece of the plane.”

She was discussing the component that detached from the plane, referred to by some as a door and by others as a window, but actually known as a door plug. This panel is designed to accommodate an optional emergency exit based on passenger capacity. In this instance, the exit was not required, so the door remained plugged until the incident.

And then there was news about the missing door plug from the Alaska Airlines flight being found in a Portland backyard.

In an unexpected twist, a Portland teacher discovered the detached door plug in a garden in his backyard in the community of Cedar Hills, about 7 miles west of central Portland.

Following the emergency landing back at Portland International Airport, the FAA ordered the temporary grounding of certain Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, reflecting their proactive response to the alarming occurrence. This swift action was prompted by the accompanying FAA directive calling for immediate inspections of the affected aircraft before they could resume flight operations.

In a subsequent update, the NTSB disclosed its intention to meticulously examine the structure of the detached door plug and delve into the aircraft’s pressurization system, signaling a rigorous investigation into the distressing event.

The Boeing 737 Max 9 at the center of the episode, a relatively new addition to Alaska Airlines’ fleet, underscored the urgency of the situation.

This facet, combined with the previous concerns over a warning light system on the same aircraft, has further intensified scrutiny on the manufacturer.

As the aviation industry grapples with the fallout from this unsettling incident, it serves as a stark reminder of the paramount importance of safety and transparency in commercial aviation.

Despite the alarming nature of the incident, all 171 passengers and six crew members were unharmed.

Despite all the commotion, that didn’t deter Elizabeth from boarding the next flight with a few companions and returning to Ontario, arriving just after 2 am, hours after the incident.

Strawberr.vy on TikTok alaska Airlines
Photo: Strawberr.vy on TikTok

The flight was not crowded, as she suspected that most people had chosen to receive a refund or find alternative means of travel. In a subsequent video, she shared some useful advice and emphasized the importance of fastening your seatbelt with the statement, “if you didn’t before, buckle the F*** up.”

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